{Re}Focus | Inhale {The Good Sh!#} Exhale {The BullSh!#}

  

 
I opened up my WordPress app today and this is what my stats told me:

It’s been 5 months since … Last Post

So let me begin by stating the obvious…It has been a while a long while a bloody long while since I posted on here. WordPress is kind enough to inform me that it has been 5 months since my last post. So why the deep buzzing of mosquitoes and no posts you may wonder? I could tell you I have been: 

swamped ~ overwhelmed ~ stressed ~ burnt-out ~ burnt-through ~ exhausted ~ sick&tired.

All of the above would be true and accurate. But mostly I have been so quiet because I have just been learning to  

 

Stop holding my breath 

                and just breathe…

 This year has been a tough one filled with more darkness than light, in more ways than one. But the important thing, even in an Annus Horribilis, to remember is that there have been slivers of light. The last 5 months I have been searching for and storing those slivers of light. That is why I have been quiet online. I needed to take a breath and then to breathe out again. Breath by breath. 

It got too dark for me to write. So instead of forcing it, I did the unthinkable, and just stopped. I realised I needed to refocus on myself, get my emotional + physical health on a better footing. I needed time to just learn to breathe again because there have been moments this year when it took all my energy reserves just to breathe.

I could go into a few logical reasons as to why I didn’t want to write but that wouldn’t be quite accurate. The worst thing was that I DID want to write. But my well was empty. A perfect storm of events + emotions + health (lack of) = Empty, dried up well of creativity/inspiration/focus. Things, past things, that I had boxed up and stored in a dank, forgotten basement in my memory crept up out of the darkness and demanded to be dealt with. Where I thought I had been brilliant at compartmentalising I was proven wrong. Because nothing had been thrown away instead the boxes had just been hidden. 

  But I’m still upright. Bruised, battered and scarred from the Past-become-Present and the Present, kneeling but upright. Ironically enough it has been this WIP – Tattooist – that has forced me to deal with those memory-monsters hidden away in boxes in that dank, forgotten basement. I was feeling claustrophobic because it was in the writing and rewriting of Tattooist that these memory-monsters started creeping out. Tattooist was their siren call. So I did the only thing I could do, I boxed up Tattooist and all the poisonous emotions and I faced down my hungry memory-monsters. I faced them and although they put in more than a good fight, I conquered my inner demons and released those hungry memory-monsters. 

That is what I have been doing for most of this year and all of the last five months. I haven’t been writing but I have been healing. In the next few weeks I’ll share a little on how and where I found the small slivers of light that took me from a dark place up into a place of faint, but growing, light.

Today there are exactly 6 weeks left of 2015. 42 Days. I won’t lie by saying I’ll miss 2015. I won’t. But today, with just 6 weeks left of 2015, I embrace my personal Annus Horribilis and I thank it. I embrace the hungry memory-monsters and I thank them. I embrace my stalled WIP and thank it. I embrace my creative claustrophobia and I thank it. I embrace the dark nights of my soul and thank them. I look at the reflection in my mirror and I see a woman who is stronger for the struggles and I thank her. I embrace and thank the girl that stands in this woman’s shadow, a reminder of what hope, joy, optimism and love look like. 

So today there are 6 weeks left of 2015. 42 Days.  

 I have been holding my breath but now I’m breathing again. I’ve exhaled the darkness and I’m inhaling the light. It is time to dust off the creative cobwebs of that dank basement and step into an open space. A space where there is light and where I can breathe without fear, without panic, without doubt, free from the shackles of the past. A space where I can pour the elixir of story back into my soul. Tattooist calls me again but now I am ready to accept the call not as sirens calling me near treacherous, dangerous rocks but as a lighthouse guiding me back home to the written page. 

So today there are exactly 6 weeks left of 2015. 42 Days. 42 Fresh starts. 42 Days to start over…

What are you going to do with your one precious life these 42 days?

PUSH: Getting Things Done in 2015 #ROW80

This year is all about Getting Things Done.
I have my focus word to drive me forward: PUSH
I have a writing plan set into motion for 2015.

So, of course, the next step was an accountability plan. It is one thing having plans and talking about them at the beginning of a year. But it becomes an “expectation” when you’re made accountable. I am lucky enough to have an incredible Story Sister in my friend Darcy Conroy. Every writer needs another writer that they can turn to. You could call it a critique partner, a writing partner, a colleague but most importantly for me we all need support and Darcy is this support person for me.

But sometimes you need further accountability and then something like ROW80 happens.
ROW80 = Round Of Words in 80 days

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What is RoW80?
The writing challenge that knows you have a life.

Perfect for rewrites/writing/editing

I signed up for the last round, there are 4 rounds per year, last year but life interruptus happened and I was not able to get everything done I wanted to for ROW80.

So I have signed up again for the first round this year. I have a writing plan and focus that is very specific this year. But there is something about Writing Down an action plan in S.M.A.R.T. bite size chunks that makes your plan doable.

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2015 ROW80 Rnd #1 Resolutions Intentions

1. Be kinder to myself

This year I am going to be kinder to myself both personally and professionally. As a perfectionist and a daughter of a German mother, most times I do not need any other critics because I am my own worst critic. I am “never good enough” and things I do are “never perfect enough”.
I am shaking off the old German professor on the side of my shoulder and I am going to go easier on myself.
I am not going to use the words: _____…not good enough / ____…not perfect.

I am also going to stop beating myself up about work not done on days when the migraine monster comes calling. Instead I am going to work through the good days and on the bad days I am going to be kinder to myself.

2. Listen to my body, nurture my body

I have a tendency to push past pain until I create more pain. It is one of the reasons I have never needed a personal trainer to push me to train. Rather I need someone there to help me put the brakes on.

Last year I ignored my body’s messages for far too long and put my physical health at risk which impacted on my writing life.

This year I am making a firm decision to intentionally listen to my body and to intentionally nurture my body.

3. Unplug, destress, relax…more

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At the end of last year I took a wonderful week off…a week off from the internet, the constant information overload, the television and got back to nature. I realised 1 week per year of this unplugging needs to be more.

So this year I am taking every Sunday/Monday back.
Every Sunday: Complete unplug. No internet. No writing. No television.
Every Monday: Unplugged (except for the first Monday/month when I co-host #Storycraft on twitter). No writing.

Intention #2015 – I want to take a whole week off (Sunday – Sunday) once every 3 months and unplug completely.

To PUSH forward I need to allow myself rest days where I stand still in order to energise myself for the next week.

4. Make more time to read

Last year I did not read as much as I wanted to. Mostly because I was battling sapping energy/concentration levels. This year I want to read more for pleasure. As a writer, I do read a lot but this year I want to read every day.
I’ll also be reviewing more books. I have baulked for a while about reviewing books but realised that before I am a writer, I am and have always been a voracious reader. So I am going to set an intention to have a Kaffeeklatsch, where I discuss my current reads along with what coffee I am drinking, at least once a month, aiming for two per month on Wednesdays.

5. Getting words done in S.M.A.R.T bite-size chunks

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I have been looking for a productivity tool for a while now.
The thing is: I love being organised but I hate lists. But this week I found an app that just Zings for me.

It is called droptask.

It is the Visual task organiser/project planner/team collaboration tool that is built for some like me. It is visual, colourful and there is no list in sight. Instead of telling you I am going to show you what it does.

Along with Tappsana/Asana, Droptask and my incredible Lifetopix organiser – Aside: watch for a “Favourite Productivity Tools and “How I use them” post next week Thursday – I am completing small daily bite-size goals of words done/edited/rewritten instead of just focusing on a large, looming volcano of a deadline.

6. Accept “Good Enough” and Move Forward

Words are never “done” for me. I can edit until the proverbial cows come home and leave again. But…this year I am going to STOP at “good enough”. At the end of the day I need to accept what I have done and the next day “turn the page” and move towards the next goal-post.

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So I have come up with a plan for myself. Every day I am going to print off the page/s I have completed and file them. That means I am not allowed to go back over those pages on the screen once I have printed them. I am also filing them away digitally in my Dropbox as an added backup.

7. Finish and Submit

I have the intentional goal of finally finishing my Rewrite on Tattooist and submitting it to publishers. I am itching to get this rewrite done and dusted and off my computer screen onto a potential publisher/editor’s screen so that I can move on to something new and shiny. I already have a loose plot for book #2 in The Blood & Ink series and even have a working title. So the sooner I finish the rewrite on The Tattooist (Book #1) the sooner I can get going on book 2.

The long-year goal for this year is to find a publishing home for Tattooist (Book #1) and secure a publishing home for “The Blood & Ink” series.

8. PUSH forward

PUSH : My intention and focus for 2015. PUSH forward with each new day’s task. Focus on the small goals in order to Push forward to the large goals. Push past procrastination and perfectionism and get to Progress and Achievement.

PUSH = Persist Until Something Happens

Check in with what the other writers are doing for #RoW80.

Tell me: What are your intentions for 2015?

The Naked Writer…Exposing My Bell Jar #iiwk14 #invisibleillness

*Personal Post – Writer getting real – Longreads*

Battleground
© All Rights Reserved Kim Koning.

The soldiers are unseen
Camouflaged in skin
Their weapons are lethal
They are elements of torture
They have captured me
Stretched out on a rack
Every muscle screams in protest
Every muscle held in a vice-like grip of agony
My jaw is locked shut
My eyes are blinded as the blades enter
My mouth is slack with pain
My fists tied down, tightly clenched
The torture has only just begun
My body fights to find an inner strength
The needles pierce the back of my neck
I am held in place, too weak to struggle
I try to call out for mercy
I am ready to confess anything
The needles enter my skull
There are hundreds of them
The prison is too bright for me to see
Shadowy figures surround my body
Slowly I feel the needles draining my veins
I try to release the bindings on my limbs
They use my body as a pincushion
I have no more strength to fight
I can feel the weakness take over
My mind tries to fight, to shout
I open my eyes
I stare into blinding white light
The needles in my skull blind me
Bile rises up from my empty insides
I search for the unseen enemy
These faceless soldiers dealing in torment
I open my eyes and see a figure before me
It looks familiar, a faint echo of disbelief
The reflection is myself
My very flesh the rack of agony
I lose hope, I lose the battle against my skin and bone
My body is my battleground, my flesh the enemy torturing me

This is my invisible reality. This is the Bell Jar that hangs suspended over my life. My Bell Jar is: Chronic Migraine. A genetic neurological disorder.

This is not something I speak about often. Partially because it is a fairly invisible illness. Partially because so many people don’t understand what the difference is between headache, migraine and then chronic migraine is. Partially because I do not like admitting vulnerability. Partially because of the inherent shame and guilt I have in having an invisible illness.IMG_3971-0.JPG

But no more shame and no more guilt. No more “invisible” illness. Living life is about embracing all of life, the good and the bad, the strengths and the vulnerabilities. This monster that turns my body into a torture chamber has been my constant companion for the last 18 years and counting. For the last 6 years this companion has become a jealous and possessive monster determined to isolate me from those who truly love me. This monster does not live under my bed or in the cupboard like the Bogey Man. This monster has taken permanent and unwelcome residence in my exploding head.

Migraine is so much more than a bad headache.

Continue reading “The Naked Writer…Exposing My Bell Jar #iiwk14 #invisibleillness”